The True Balm-Of-Gilead Was A Fragrant, Medicinal Ointment Made In Greco-Roman Times From A Completely Different Plant Species That Grew Near The Jordan River. Because It Was Mentioned In The Bible, It Remained Well Known Throughout The Centuries.
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Humans Are Not Alone In Collecting Resin From The Balsam Poplar; Bees Collect It Too, To Encase Hive Invaders Such As Honey-Stealing Mice They Have Stung To Death. Because A Dead Mouse Is Too Heavy For Them To Carry, And A Mouse Carcass Left To Decay Would Infect The Hive, The Bees Entomb It Like A Mummy In Fragrant Plant Resin.
Although The Two Balsams Were Delightful, They Were Very Obviously Not Old Growth And Not What I Had Come All This Way To See. I Was Here To See Grand, Old White Pines That Had Never Been Logged. I Had Read All About Them In The Park Brochure: “Some Of The Best Examples Of Old-Growth Forests In The Region.” And On The Park’S Website: “When Lighthouses Were Established On The Islands, Land Was Acquired As A Reserve Around The Station So That The Keepers Had Access To Wood For Fuel. No One Was Allowed To Cut Trees On The Reserve Except The Lighthouse Keepers. Unintentionally, The Keepers Protected These Virgin Stands…. Larger Islands Like Outer And Sand Had 200 To 300 Acre Areas Reserved Adjacent To The Lighthouses. If You Hike A Trail Near These Lighthouses Today, You Will See Some Big Trees.” When I Read That, I Decided I Must See The Island Forest In Wisconsin.
But How Could I Get There? Most Of The Old-Growth Forests On This Continent Are Accessible By Car And Then Foot, But For This One I Would Need A
Boat. Ferries Visit Some Of The Apostle Islands, Either To Islands With No Old Growth Left Or Stopping Only For A Brief Lighthouse Tour Not The Sort Of Trip I Was Looking For. I Could Have Hired A Private Water Taxi To Outer Island For A Steep $480. Sand Island Was Only A Few Miles Off The Shore Of Lake Superior Within Kayaking Distance But Wisconsin Was A Long Way From My Home And I Planned To Fly. I Couldn’T Easily Bring My Kayak On The Plane. By Now I Was Working The Phone And The Internet Simultaneously. I Found An Outfitter Who Would Rent Me A Kayak, But I’D Have To Take A Three-Hour Safety Course First, Pay For The Shuttle, Rent My Own Camping Space, And, Of Course, Bring All My Own Gear. When I Added It All Up, The Kayak Rental Would Have Cost Well Over A Hundred Dollars. Or, The Woman On The Phone Told Me, I Could Go With A Guide And A Small Group And All The Details Camping Permits, Tents, Meals, Etc. Would Be Taken Care Of. They Happened To Have Space On An Overnight Excursion To The Very Island I Wanted To Visit On The Very Weekend I Wanted To G°.
I Could Almost Feel The Plastic Sliding Out Of My Wallet. We Were To Meet Very Early In The Morning, So I Would Need Lodging Nearby The Night Before; They Just Happened To Have A Cabin Available. There Were No Frequent Flyer Tickets Available, So I Had To Buy A Full-Fare Ticket. I Also Needed To Rent A Car. The Grand Total Of $1,125 Was More Money Than I Ever Imagined Spending On An Overnight Kayak Trip, But It Seemed Like The Best Of All Possible Alternatives.